Relations with Bulgaria have changed since it violated Article 2 of the Good Neighbour Agreement, which said that Sofia would help us on the European path, not help us, at the very least block us again.
We experienced two vetoes and problems for our language. There is no progress in an atmosphere of blackmail. “Mutual trust and respect is required to advance the dialogue on all issues,” said Nikola Dimitrov, the deputy prime minister for European affairs.
“The principle of the Friendship Agreement with Bulgaria was that governments, political leaders should deal with the present and the future and historians should deal with history. What politics can do is to create a favourable climate – for societies, academia, members of the Historical Development Commission to speak freely and openly. What happened is that the relationship changed because Bulgaria violated Article 2 of the agreement which says that Sofia will help us on the European path, it will not help us, at the very least it will block us again. We experienced two vetoes, we also experienced the problematisation of something very internal, our language – the Macedonian language at European level, and in this respect these steps made it difficult to have a really honest dialogue. This is the main problem at the moment. We will continue to try to solve this problem. The more there will be trust and respect for each other and issues that are important for each other, the easier the dialogue will be on all issues that are important for both sides,” Dimitrov said at a press conference after the signing of the memorandum of understanding of the trilateral project to promote digitization in North Macedonia.
He added that “the big problem for progress both in the history talks and in other issues where we have differences is the atmosphere of blackmail.”
“Both the Macedonian people and the Bulgarian people and many other peoples of the Balkans have a saying that ‘there is no beauty by force’. There can be no real intimacy and no real progress if this atmosphere of blackmail persists. There must be mutual respect, there must be greater understanding of each other’s sensitivity. Intimacy and friendship cannot be created without such basic respect, and intimacy and friendship can never be created when they are blackmailed,” Dimitrov said.
He reiterated that it is the political responsibility to create an atmosphere, it is the responsibility of experts, of the academic community to address historical issues.
“Right now the atmosphere is disturbed because of the two vetoes – violation of Article 2 of the agreement which says that Bulgaria will support us and help us move towards a common European future and to return to a positive atmosphere as soon as possible to ensure that the differences are discussed, the more progress we will make.
Asked about the statement by the new US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, Gabriel Escobar, that there are other ways to resolve the issue without impeding North Macedonia’s European integration, Ambassador Kate Burns said she reiterated the long-term US policy in supporting the country’s European integration.
“We see the Macedonian future in the EU and we confirm the importance of resolving the issues and we hope that this will continue until the end of the year.” We continue to talk to all partners, we have talks with the government here in Skopje, talks with neighbouring countries and across Europe to make sure that we are doing everything we can to support the move forward. “I don’t have a specific announcement at this time, except to confirm that the United States will be engaged on this issue and in the talks because we all share the same vision of North Macedonia taking its rightful place in Europe and the EU and hopefully soon,” Burns said.
She reiterated that she did not want to speculate about a project that she had not heard about.
“It’s very clear that the role of the United States is that we have an interest and we see North Macedonia as a strategic partner as well as the EU, however, it’s not a situation that the United States needs to resolve immediately. “So you can separate out the bad information,” U.S. Ambassador Burns said.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said yesterday that he expects Bulgaria to continue to be our friend and supporter in the process of European integration under Article 2 of the Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Agreement and that the country will not take concrete steps until it receives support./ibna